Corruption

Judge Declares Mistrial in Menendez Case

“A hopelessly deadlocked jury brought an abrupt end to the corruption trial of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) with the declaration of a mistrial, after a contentious 11-week courtroom drama that concluded without a final act,” the Newark Star Ledger reports.

“The government now must decide whether to retry the Democratic lawmaker… Even without a verdict, the mistrial puts the political career of Menendez in the balance. Up for re-election next year, the senator faces the prospect of running for office as he is defending himself in any retrial.”

Menendez Trial In Turmoil

“Seven of the 16 jurors and alternates in the trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) raised their hands when U.S. District Judge William Walls on Monday morning asked whether they’d heard or read anything about the case, prompting the judge to take them into his chambers individually to get more details,” the Newark Star Ledger reports.

“The inquiry came after defense attorneys in the trial noted that widespread news coverage of an excused juror’s public statements may have tainted the remaining members of the panel.”

Update: Jurors told the judge that they “are unable to reach a unanimous decision in the case and asked for guidance,” according to the Newark Star Ledger.

Dismissed Menendez Juror Suggests Hung Jury

“The juror dismissed from Sen. Robert Menendez’s bribery case said they began deliberations on Monday with nine of them — including herself — prepared to find him not guilty of the most serious charges. By Thursday, they were still deadlocked,” the Newark Star Ledger reports.

The juror “described a tense, sometimes combative, atmosphere in the jury room. The disorganized deliberations at moments broke down, with jurors speaking over each other, and at least once using foul language.”

Jury Begins Deliberations on Menendez

Jurors in the federal corruption trial of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) could begin their deliberations on Monday, CBS Philly reports.

Jonathan Swan: “The jury could reach a decision any day now, and the case looms large over the Senate. Nobody in the leadership of either party will reveal anything about their plans to deal with this highly sensitive and explosive matter. But it’s high on their minds.”

This is a huge deal for the Senate and there will be many open questions if Menendez is convicted. What happens if Menendez appeals it? What will Mitch McConnell, who will play a key role, do? How will Chuck Schumer and Menendez’s Democratic colleagues respond? Would they call for Menendez to step down? And what reaction can we expect from the Senate Ethics Committee, chaired by the senior senator from Georgia, Johnny Isakson?”

The Most Corrupt Administration In History?

Newsweek: “According to the presidential historian Robert Dallek, no American leader has acted with more unadulterated self-interest as Trump. Dallek says that in terms of outright corruption, Trump is worse than both Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding, presidents who oversaw the most flagrant instances of graft in American political history.”

Said Dallek: “What makes this different is that the president can’t seem to speak the truth about a host of things.”

Trump isn’t just allowing corruption, in Dallek’s view, but encouraging it: “The fish rots from the head.”

Menendez Seeks Mistrial in Corruption Trial

“Lawyers for Sen. Bob Menendez – on trial in federal court for bribery and other corruption charges – formally declared in a new court filing Sunday that they will seek a mistrial, declaring the judge overseeing the case is biased and has prevented the New Jersey Democrat from presenting his case,” Politico reports.

“During a contentious hearing Thursday, defense attorneys repeatedly challenged U.S. District Judge William Walls and said they would file a motion for a mistrial. Walls is almost certain to rule against them. Menendez and Melgen’s attorneys, however, are clearly setting up grounds for an appeal if they are convicted at the end of this trial. Arguments over the defense motion will take place this week.”

Graham, Booker to Testify on Behalf of Menendez

“A courtroom in New Jersey will briefly turn into a rare scene of bipartisan unity Thursday as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are expected to come to the defense of Sen. Bob Menendez, both taking the witness stand to defend their colleague facing federal bribery charges,” CNN reports.

“Graham and Booker are specifically expected to vouch for the New Jersey Democrat’s character and integrity. Prosecutors have accused Menendez of accepting free rides on private jets from Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy ophthalmologist from Florida, and then failing to report the gifts on his Senate disclosure forms as part of an effort to conceal their bribery scheme for years.”

Judge Lets Stand Schock Indictment

“A federal judge in Illinois on Monday let stand the vast majority of the indictment against former GOP Rep. Aaron Schock, refusing a defense request to dismiss the charges,” Politico reports.

“Schock was indicted in November 2016 on a variety of corruption charges, including wire fraud, mail fraud, filing false federal tax returns, submitting inaccurate reports to the Federal Election Commission, making false statements, and theft of government funds.”

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Menendez Corruption Charges

“After raising Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) hopes last week, a federal judge crushed them on Monday morning,” Politico reports.

“U.S. District Court Judge William Walls refused to toss any of the 18 charges in the corruption case against Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, despite last week casting doubt on a legal theory that’s at the heart of the prosecution’s case.”

Will McDonnell Ruling Save Menendez?

“The bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has reached a critical moment, with the judge overseeing the case deciding whether to dismiss a big chunk of the corruption allegations facing the New Jersey Democrat,” Politico reports.

“U.S. District Judge William Walls stunned federal prosecutors last week when he expressed doubts over whether the Justice Department’s bribery charges against Menendez should move forward in light of the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision throwing out the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. That ruling impacted the legal definition of bribery, including the ‘string of benefits’ theory used by prosecutors to charge Menendez.”

“Walls’ bombshell left open the possibility that Menendez could escape the most serious allegations against him, possibly even allowing him to remain in office.”

Prosecutors Rest Case Against Menendez

“Prosecutors rested their federal corruption case against Sen. Bob Menendez Wednesday, capping off weeks of a trial that could determine the political future of the New Jersey Democrat,” CNN reports.

“Over 18 days of testimony from 35 witnesses, prosecutors have tried to establish a ‘quid pro quo’ bribery theory that they set forth during open arguments.”

Bribery Trial Could Reshape Senate

“The first U.S. senator to face bribery charges in nearly four decades goes on trial Wednesday in a case that could affect the Senate’s partisan makeup and the fate of President Trump’s legislative agenda,” NBC News reports.

“If Menendez is convicted, he would likely resist any calls to resign. If he were to step down this year, his successor would be appointed by New Jersey’s current governor, Chris Christie, giving the Republicans an additional Senate seat — which could be key to passing White House-backed Republican health care legislation that failed by one vote.”

“If Menendez were to resign after Jan. 16, the appointment would be made by the state’s newly elected governor, likely to be a Democrat.”